By Dave Wagner
PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan knew the Greyhounds needed to replace graduating point guards Brent Cooper and David Hamilton, and he hopes they’ve done that.
The Hounds have signed four junior college transfers, including points guards Jolen Montoya of Neosho County (Kan.) Community College and Reggie Wallace of Mt. San Antonio (Calif.) College, for the 2004-05 season.
ENMU has added two more players from Mt. San Antonio in 6-5 wing Jason Breland and 6-7 forward-post Daniel Sherman. All four will be juniors next season, as will 6-6 post Mikal Monette of Albuquerque’s Cibola High School, who will walk on after seeing limited duty in two seasons at the University of New Mexico.
The two-time Lone Star Conference South Division champion Hounds return six of their top 10 players, including five who will be seniors, after going 20-9 in 2003-04 and losing to Northwest Missouri State in the first round of the NCAA Division II South Central Region tournament.
“I like the group we’ve got right now,” Scanlan said. “Last year we didn’t get the numbers (in recruiting), but this year I think all five of these guys can help. I feel like we’ve filled some immediate needs and created a competitive situation in practice.”
Montoya, who played his freshman year for former ENMU coach Earl Diddle at Pratt (Kan.) Community College, earned All-Jayhawk Conference East honors last season at Neosho County. Wallace did not play last season, but was first-team All-South Coast Conference in 2002-03 in helping Mt. San Antonio to a 22-14 record.
Both have 3-point range and Scanlan said that will be important because guard Kennis Green, ENMU’s top outside threat and second-leading scorer in 2003-04, is not being brought back next season.
“We kind of killed two birds with one stone,” Scanlan said, referring to both guards’ outside shooting ability. “(Wallace) is cat-quick. He gets the ball from foul line to foul line as quick as anyone I’ve ever seen.”
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Breland was a first-team all-city pick in Los Angeles and runnerup for city player of the year honors as a high school senior. Last season at Mt. San Antonio, he averaged 17 points and six rebounds.
Stats on Sherman were not available. Monette averaged less than two points a game at UNM.
Zias add guards — ENMU women’s basketball coach Dan Buzard has signed 5-7 point guard Ashley Davidson of Odessa (Texas) College and 5-5 point guard Erika Cook of Portales High School.
Davidson, who will be a junior, was a backup on a 31-4 squad which lost in the finals of the NJCAA Region V tournament in March. Cook, meantime, helped Portales win its third Class 3A state title in the past four years.
“We’re looking for people who can give us some more leadership,” Buzard said. “I think we’re going to have battles at the point guard position every day with (Davidson and returning sophomore) Heather (Brown).”
Buzard’s squad went a surprising 16-12 last season and made it to the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament before taking a crippling hit with injuries to starters Laci Lee and Jereena Bosket.
“We’re just trying to beef up our roster a little and get depth at every position,” Buzard said. “We’re trying to cover our bases a little bit.”
Buzard said the Zias expect to add a player or two at the post position to replace the 6-foot Bosket, the only senior on last year’s squad.